Directed by David Fincher. Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer, Max Minghella.
THE PLOT: Autumn 2003, and Harvard computer wizz Mark Zuckerberg (Eisenberg) takes revenge on the girl who’s just dumped him earlier that night, firstly by blogging about her, and then by putting her – and every other girl on campus – up on a site to be rated against one another. And when three popular students – identical twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (an incredible Armie Hammer) and Divya Narenda (Minghella) – ask him to set up a Harvard Connections site, the non-dashing, non-partying Mark seems to take revenge on them too, secretly building his own social website, The Facebook, along with a little financial help from best friend, Eduardo Saverin (Garfield). As its popualrity spreads, from college to college, and then from country to country, Napster founder Sean Parker (Timberlake) gets involved, proving something of a cuckoo in the nest for Eduardo. And that’s when the lawyers get involved…
THE VERDICT: This is a stunning film, all the more impressive because it’s largely a bunch of Harvard geeks and their lawyers sitting around a table arguing over who truly came up with a website idea. The casting is spot-on – Eisenberg was born to play this part, and Timberlake possesses all the irresistible charm of self-destructing party-boy Parker – and the performances inspired, but it’s Sorkin’s screenplay (based on court documents and Ben Mezrich’s 2006 bestseller, The Accidental Billionaires) and Fincher’s surprisingly muted direction that makes this such a subtly compelling movie. Forget Inception – this is the smartest movie of 2010. RATING: *****
Directed by Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud. Starring the voices of Steve Carell, Jason Segal, Russell Brand, Julie Andrews, Will Arnett.
THE PLOT: Like any self-respecting evil genius, our anti-hero Gru (Carell) sets out to steal the moon – only the bank won’t give him a loan until he gets his shrink ray together. Having done the decent evil thing, and stolen one, Gru soon has to battle the also-very-evil Vector (Segel) – fresh from having stolen the Pyramids – who steals the shrink ray from him. And that’s when Gru hooks up with three little cookie-selling orphans so he can gain access to Vector’s house. All this good work is put in jeopardy though when it becomes apparent that Gru’s old friend Dr. Nefario (Brand) has world domination plans of his own…
THE VERDICT: The latest in a long line of 3D computer-animated outings, but the first from Universal’s new animation arm (although all the heavy lifting here being done by France’s Illumination Entertainment), Despicable Me did surprisingly well stateside. Partly because it’s got Steve Carell in the lead role, but mainly because it’s got that lethal combination for kids; an ogre with a silly accent (sound familiar?), plus a wicked sense of humour. The humour could have been a little more wicked, and the ogre a little more ogre-esque, but something tells me we’re looking at a franchise here.RATING: ***
Directed by Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer. Starring Jenn Proske, Mat Lanter, Diedrich Bader, Chris Rigi, Ken Jeong.
THE PLOT: Largely a spoof on the Twilight franchise, and based entirely, it seems, on the idea that a mere reference is enough of a punchline, Becca Crane (Proske) and Edward Sullen (Lanter) are Sporks, Washington’s odd couple, their love battered by public mistrust, the Sullen clan’s desire to devour Becca, and werewolf hunk Jacob White (Riggi). Along the way, there are nods to just about everything and anything with a hot Twitter account.
THE VERDICT: This is from the guys who gave us Date Movie. And Meet The Spartans. And Disaster Movie. Pale imitations, in other words, of the great Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker team who gave usAirplane! And The Naked Gun. They must, of course, therefore be hunted down immediately, taken to a remote field, and slapped about the head and face. Forever. RATING: *
Directed by Lisa Cholodenko. Starring Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska, Josh Hutcherson.
THE PLOT: About to leave for college, 18-year old Joni (Wasikowska) is curious about the sperm donor who fathered both she and her younger brother, Laser (Hutcherson), and decide to get in touch without telling ma (Bening) and ma (Moore). Their biological pop, organic farmer Paul (Ruffalo), quickly forms a bond with his two offspring, and with one of their mothers, sharing a love for landscaping, and an enemy of the other, who instantly becomes jealous of the new bonds that are threatening their family unit.
THE VERDICT: A Sundance hit (but, of course), The Kids Are All Right has been getting rave reviews in high places, such as Sight & Sound, but there’s something undeniably smug about Cholodenko’s thoroughly modern family drama. Maybe it’s Bening – she’s got that Sharon-Stone-with-a-haircut smell about her; trying desperately hard to come across as though she isn’t trying. Moore, Ruffalo and co are all pretty darn wonderful though. RATING: ***
THE PLOT: A good cop in a sea of lazy, shamelessly bad cops, Cristi (Bucur) has been given the task of tailing a teenage boy (Radu Costin) who smokes a little hashish every lunch break with two friends, including Alex (Alexandru Sabadac), who is working as an informer. Cristi reckons there is no great crime being committed, but his boss is keen to instigate a sting operation. The crushing mundanity of his job, and the injustice he feels is about to be committed, leaves Cristi facing a crossroads. And banging heads with his boss in the film’s closing Beckett-esque confrontation.
THE VERDICT: Acclaimed Romanian filmmaker Corneliu Porumboiu (who previously gave us the 2007 Camera d’Or winner, 12:08 East Of Bucharest) here brings us a new genre – the non-thriller. Very little happens here. Very slowly. Given the stark, miserable setting of a depressing Romanian village, at times, this plays like CSI as though made entirely with homeless people. If you’re in the mood for some slow cinema though, this might just float your boat. Very gently. RATING: ***
Be happy, be very, very happy – this year’s Horrorthon at the IFI promises to be another four days of top quality frights and freak-outs, with classics such as Charles Laughton’s The Night Of The Hunterand Carrie sitting alongside new scares such as Paranormal Activity 2 (the opening film) and the well-received remake of the 1978 cult hit I Spit On Your Grave. Closing the festival will be Monsters, an alien invasion offering from first-timer Garth Edwards that has been receiving as many rave reviews as James Nguyen’s pitiful Birdemic: Shock And Terror has been garnering guffaws. Full details on ifi.ie/horrorthon2010.
MODERN LIFE ISN’T RUBBISH?
In conjunction with the IMMA’s major autumn exhibition Moderns, the IFI are presenting The Moderns: Cinema And Ireland, a special season of screenings – each with an accompanying discussion – which celebrates the development of Irish Cinema.
Including in the programme will be Samuel Beckett’s only work for cinema, Film (1965), which stars the legendary Buster Keaton, described by the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze as “the greatest Irish film”. Then again, the man didn’t live long enough to see Mark Mahon’s 2007 masterpieceStrength And Honour – aka Rocky Balboa & The Little People.
Also screening will be Robert Flaherty’s 1934 offering Man Of Aran, Bob Quinn’s Caoineadh Airt Ui Laoire and Thaddeus O’Sullivan’s Flanagan. Kicking off on October 21st at 17.50 with Beckett’sFilm, and finishing on November 13th at 12.00 with the ‘First Wave’ screenings and discussions, full details can be found on ifi.ie.
Having already treated the great unwashed to some of cinema’s golden oldies, the Ormonde cinema in Stillorgan offers up another batch of classics, running every fortnight through October and November. Goodies on offer include Point Blank (Oct 13th) and Let The Right One In on Oct 27th, with other goodies such as Chinatown, The Man Who Would Be King, It’s A Wonderful Life andAnatomy Of A Murder completing the set. Check out ormondecinemas.ie for full details. Or else.